Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Why Doesn’t Hallmark Love Middle Earth?! The 2013 Bilbo Baggins Ornament Flops!

The Good: Affordable, Nice detailing on the ring
The Bad: Severe coloring issues, Animated look, Gaps at seams.
The Basics: The 2013 "Bilbo Baggins" ornament illustrates perfectly that Hallmark is not banking heavily on The Hobbit!

Last year, I found that I was pleasantly surprised that Hallmark had picked up The Hobbit as a keepsake ornament line. While I was generally unimpressed by the Gandalf The Grey ornament (reviewed here!), I was excited that the ornament company had begun producing Middle Earth-themed ornaments again. Unfortunately, like so many companies that merchandised for The Lord Of The Rings when those films were released a decade ago, it seems that Hallmark learned that there is a particularly short half-life for Middle Earth based ornaments and it did not truly invest big in the franchise. That is evident from this year’s ornament outing, Bilbo Baggins. While the ornament has superlative detailing on the molding of the One Ring, the rest of the ornament is particularly anemic and disappointing.

For those unfamiliar with the idea of the ornament, Bilbo Baggins features the hobbit from The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (reviewed here!) and the subsequent Hobbit movies still forthcoming. This is Bilbo Baggins, looking like he is contemplating a riddle while holding the One Ring in his hand. This is a more contemplative version of Bilbo than the action-oriented sculpt of Gandalf which was released last year.


The "Bilbo Baggins" ornament recreates Bilbo Baggins in his traveling coat and short pants with his left hand raised to his chin and his right hand pinching the One Ring of power. The ornament, released in 2013, is a very lightly-detailed sculpt of Bilbo Baggins, as portrayed by Martin Freeman. This version of Bilbo Baggins looks remarkably animated, as opposed to having come from a live-action reference, and it looks unfortunately, poorly, assembled.

Hallmark only seemed to make an effort on the molding with detailing the One Ring. The exceptionally-fine work on the ring, even though it is ridiculously oversized for the hobbit, shows some sophistication. Unfortunately, the rest of the detailing is not as fine. The hair on the feet and on the top of Bilbo Baggins’s head is only passably sculpted on and the ears and costume details are very lightly presented. Measuring four and one-quarter inches tall, one and a half inches wide and one and one-quarter inches deep, the "Bilbo Baggins" ornament is one of the larger Hallmark character ornaments this year and is not exactly in proportion to the Gandalf The Grey ornament that was released last year! At $14.95, the Bilbo Baggins ornament is, admittedly, one of the more affordable genre ornaments this season, further implying that Hallmark is betting low on the viability of merchandise surrounding The Hobbit.

The Hallmark "Bilbo Baggins" ornament is made of a durable plastic and sculpted to look generally like Martin Freeman, though because it lacks significant sculpting details, it looks much more like an animated version of the character as opposed to Freeman’s version of Bilbo. The coloring for the skin is monotonal, save a light blush to the cheeks. The hair on both the head and feet is similarly one-colored. As well, the clean costume is colored in single colors without any realistic depth and shading. Even the buttons on the coat remain unpainted, though the brass buttons on the vest are at least shaded on!

Adding to the disappointment is the fact that the One Ring is a sickly brown color, as opposed to a gold hue. Hallmark did not waste much time going for realism in the coloring or sophistication in the sculpt of the Bilbo Baggins ornament!


As a Hallmark Keepsake ornament, "Bilbo Baggins" could have a sound effect, but it does not. Instead, this is a less-expensive option that is just the character.


As with all ornaments, the intent of the Hallmark Keepsake "Bilbo Baggins" ornament is to be hung on a Christmas Tree. And for those creating the ultimate movie nostalgia Christmas Tree, the "Bilbo Baggins" ornament is a conceptually wonderful option, but a poor ornament in execution, making for a real non-starter. The ornament has the standard brass hook loop embedded into the top center of Bilbo Baggins's head. This is fairly obvious and necessary for the ornament. Hanging there, the ornament is fairly well-balanced.


Hallmark Keepsake began delving into the collectibles market in 1991 with Star Trek when it introduced the exceptionally limited edition original U.S.S. Enterprise ornament (click here for that review!). Within a few years, every major franchise from Star Wars to A Nightmare Before Christmas to Indiana Jones started making Hallmark ornaments. "Bilbo Baggins" is one of only a few Middle Earth ornaments on the market, but it is the first of Bilbo Baggins. Between the mediocre quality and the short half-life of Middle Earth-related merchandise, investors might want to wait until this is half price before stocking up!


Fans of the Middle Earth franchise, Martin Freeman, and Hallmark ornaments are likely to all be disappointed by the execution of the Bilbo Baggins ornament and find themselves hoping for something better from Hallmark to celebrate the next The Hobbit movie next year!

For other Hallmark genre ornaments released in 2013, please check out my reviews of:
Pirates Of The Caribbean
Hogwarts Castle Harry Potter ornament
Boushh Star Wars Limited Edition ornament
U.S.S. Kelvin Star Trek ornament
Scarlett’s Green Gown Gone With The Wind ornament
At Jabba’s Mercy Star Wars ornament
Iron Patriot Iron Man 3 ornament


For other ornament reviews, please visit my Ornament Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2013 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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